Crown & Harp 18th Anniversary Party Lower Greenville, Dallas Sunday, November 30, 2014
In Dallas, catching shows with stacked bills is normally confined to the few hallowed blocks of Deep Ellum. Rich in history and deep with its repertoire of club venues, Deep Ellum is the cornerstone of live music in this region. However, with its rebirth as a thriving concert venue in recent years, Crown & Harp has become the most obvious reason to head to Lower Greenville for music once nights in Deep Ellum have you feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
On Sunday, Crown & Harp celebrated its 18th anniversary with a fun mix of rappers, rock bands and DJs. A change of scenery is always nice, but Crown & Harp's most laudable quality isn't what neighborhood it's in, it's the fact that it's a champion and advocate of local music. And also the drinks are cheap as hell.
The space that Crown & Harp now occupies was formerly known as The Cavern (and The Raw Bar before that) and brought acts like Local Natives and Devendra Banhart in the earlier stages of their careers. After The Cavern closed and was turned into the Crown and Harp Moody Fuqua stepped in as a talent buyer and transformed the place into a landmark spot in Dallas for local music. Every night there's either local DJs digging deep into their crates (or Serato) for deep cuts or classics, sometimes bringing colleagues along through. Or there's great local acts -- rappers, art house noise rock, or garage rock -- playing downstairs for free or next to nothing.
Recently, Crown & Harp did some renovations and got a new dance floor upstairs. There's even a disco ball because, you know, you have to tie the room together properly. Commemorating 18 years and new cosmetics was a great idea, that proved to be slightly difficult as the set times were pushed back a few times. (This is Dallas, after all; nothing cant start on time here, ever.) But, once things got rolling, they went off without a hitch.
Jenny Robinson and Bear Club traded rhymes with a great level of confidence and familiarity. The two have chemistry like drunk friends singing along to famous songs in a bar. They delve into a little of a performance art, with Bear Club dressed in a bear suit and Jenny Robinson crawling around, laying down and stretching on the floor. At points throughout their shows, it seems as though they forget about the performance art thing and are most at home as two petite figures bouncing around the stage rapping their asses off.
Slim Gravy would show off a brief set of some soon-to-be-released solo material ("There's a special guest tonight, and that special guest is me!" he announced) between sets from Buffalo Black and Blue, the Misift, while -topic ended the rap portion of the festivities upstairs. His set included songs off of his album Be Good & Do Well as well as a few upcoming numbers. -topic is one of the most reliably entertaining rappers in this city, whose incisive rhymes, magnetic and earnest performances could make a "you can't spell crap without rap" person into a believer.
Dark Rooms, meanwhile, closed out the birthday portion of the evening downstairs after a fun set from the Chloes. Daniel Hart's remarkable violin playing and ethereal indie-pop simultaneously explores both gloom and beauty. If anything was missing from the night, it was the club's emphasis on experimental music (read: Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions), but that was a minor point, and Dark Rooms went some ways toward covering that base anyway.
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Deep Ellum gives you the ability to bounce around from venue to venue with wonderful live music. The Promoter Mafia (an endearing sobriquet, we insist) frequently brings in the most exciting national acts, big and small, from around the world. Interestingly, though, the best place in the city to catch local acts on a regular basis is Crown & Harp. The long bill of local acts putting on top-notch performances has been great and a strong sign of things past, present and yet to come.
We're thankful for the birthday bash in the first place and equally glad it wasn't called a festival for chrissakes. And those cheap drinks. Had we previously mentioned the cheap drinks?
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